victim offender mediation • Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

New Title Spotlight: Restorative Justice and Mediation in Penal Matters

It’s been a great month for discovering new titles in our collection that will appeal to comparative law researchers! The latest title that caught my eye provides a survey of criminal justice ADR practice in 36 (36!) European countries:

Restorative Justice and Mediation in Penal Matters: A Stock-Taking of Legal Issues, Implementation Strategies and Outcomes in 36 European Countries
Frieder Dünkel, Joanna Grzywa-Holten, Philip Horsfield (eds.)
Forum Verlag Godesberg, 2015
(2 volumes)

The editors’ goal in compiling this collection was to “know what there is in Europe today in terms of [Restorative Justice] RJ in penal matters, what the driving forces have been for introducing RJ, how it has been implemented in legislation and on the ground, and what role it plays (central or peripheral) in criminal justice practice.” (p. 3)

Each country report includes an in-depth discussion of active and proposed Victim Offender Mediation (VOM) programs for both adult and juvenile offenders.

Highlights include:

Austria’s NEUSTART program includes three options: “VOM, community service, and probation assistance.”  The use of VOM has been studied there for several years and has shown interesting results, including the public prosecutor dismissing criminal charges in 78% of cases in which VOM was used. (pp. 34-35)

The laws of the Czech Republic provide several RJ-oriented options to “the full range of criminal justice stakeholders: the police, public prosecutors, Probation and Mediation Service, offenders, and victims[.]” These include VOM, conciliation (narovnání) hearings, and both “conditional discontinuance” and abandonment of criminal prosecution. (pp. 171-74)

In Finland, “[f]our structures serve the interests of the victim’ restorative needs[,]”:

  • Insurance and civil law compensation schemes
  • The state compensation system
  • Diversion in the form of non-prosecution
  • Mediation

The Finnish government has an extensive network of agencies to oversee and facilitate mediation in criminal cases, including “the Ministry of Social and Welfare Affairs…, the Advisory Board on Mediation in Criminal Cases, the mediation office, and the mediation officer in charge.” The use of mediation in Finnish criminal cases has been extensively researched, and data about mediation participants and their relative satisfaction with the mediation process is included in the report. (pp. 243-62)

Romania’s Law on Mediation and the Mediator Profession (Law No. 192/2006, published in the Official Gazette No. 441 on May 22, 2006) “regulates…the procedure and characteristics of mediation in penal matters.”  This law was amended in 2009 (Law 370/2009), “introduc[ing] the duty of justice officials to inform the parties about the availability of mediation.” The report provides an extensive explanation of the statutory requirements for the mediation process required under this law, and it also discusses the results of 2010 survey of public prosecutors and judges regarding the use and acceptance of VOM in criminal proceedings. (pp. 697-719)

The report from Ukraine features a discussion of the work done to advocate for the use of RJ in criminal proceedings by “civil society organizations,” including the Ukrainian Centre for Common Ground (UCCG). This organization first introduced a pilot program of VOM in criminal cases in Ukraine in 2003. Currently, the UCCG’s work includes providing training for mediators who offer mediation services in the 14 Community Restorative Justice Centres (CRJCs) across the country. (pp. 989-1005)

This resource provides a wealth of information for comparative research of criminal justice, ADR, and European legislation. Each report is highly readable and helpfully annotated with primary and secondary source references.  The national experts who wrote these reports have done us a real service in contributing their knowledge to these volumes. It is definitely worth a look if your interests lie in any of these areas.

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